(6) The Fullness of the Godhead Dwells in Jesus

“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” reads Colossians 2:9 (NKJV). The Greek text says: ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως (Wescott-Hort). Giving their equivalents in the Roman texts, the Wescott-Hort Greek texts read: hoti en auto katoikei pan to ple’roma tes theo’tetos somatikos. Alfred Marshall translates: “Because in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament).

GODHEAD DEFINED. M. R. Vincent (Word Studies in the NT, 906) thinks “the essential and personal deity” that makes God “God” (the θεοτητος, theotetos) belongs to Jesus. This is the necessary conclusion based on the meaning of the phrase “all the fullness of the Godhead.” Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker define the word θεοτητος as “deity, divinity,” adding that the word is “used as abstract noun” for θεος, theos, “God.” (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker,  A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 358). BAGD cites Colossians 2:9 for this usage. θεος is “God,” while θεοτητος and its co-derivative θεοτης, theotes, means “Godhead.”

GODHEAD OR DIVINITY? The word θεοτητος in Colossians 2:9 is translated “Godhead” but a related word in Romans 1:20, θειοτης, theiotes (note the iota letter!), is rendered variously by different translators: as “divinity” (ASV, Centenary Translation, Darby’s), “existence” (BBE), “divine nature” (God’s Word, Weymouth’s), “Godhead” (KJV, Wesley’s, Young’s), and “deity” (RSV).  Do θεοτητος and θειοτητος, or θεοτης and θειοτης, mean the same?

Vine says no. His argument is that θειοτης, “divinity,” is derived from θειος, “divine” (Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words With Their Precise Meanings for English Readers, item: “Divinity,” 328); θεοτητος, “Godhead,” on the other hand, is rooted from θεος, “God.”

Vine says: (1) θειοτης, “divinity” (cf. Romans 1:20), indicates the divine essence of Godhood, the Personality of God; and that (2) θεοτητος, or θεοτης (cf. Colossians 2:9), indicates His divine attributes, nature and properties (Ibid., 328-329). It would be best to do more research on this.

MEANING OF “KATOIKEI,” “DWELLS.” The Greek text reads: ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει, hoti en auto katoikei, literally, “For in Him dwells.” κατοικει in its intransitive usage means “live, dwell, reside, settle (down)” (BAGD, 424). When intransitive, the verb stands without a direct object. For example, this sentence: “He dwells.” The subject is “He,” the verb is “dwells,” and while it has no object we know that the sense and meaning of the sentence is complete.

κατοικει in its transitive usage means “to inhabit something.” This means the verb cannot stand without a direct object. Matthew 23:21 illustrates this usage: “And the one swearing by the temple swears by it, and by the one inhabiting (katoikounti) it.” The present active participial verb “inhabiting” has for its object the pronoun “it.”

A derivative of κατοικει is the noun κατοικησις, katoikesis, meaning living, or dwelling quarters (cf. Mark 5:3, “who had his dwelling among the tombs”) (BAGD, 424).  Another derivative, κατοικιa, katoiki’a, is a noun and is translated “dwelling place,”  or “habitation” (cf. Acts 17:26, literally, “the boundaries of their dwelling”) (BAGD, 424).

κατοικει, katoikei, in Colossians 2:9 is present active indicative. Why active? The phrase “the fullness of the Godhead” is the one doing the action!

“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily” can also be arranged like this: “For the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily.” “The fullness of the Godhead” is the subject, the verb is “dwells,” “bodily” is an adverb that modifies the verb “dwells,” and “in Him” is a prepositional phrase that tells us the where of the indwelling. In more ways than one, prepositional phrases function like adverbs, modifying verbs.

In Colossians 2:9, the action, “dwells,” is not done by Jesus; he is in fact the one being dwelt in.

It can neither be said that Jesus is the direct object of the verb “dwells,” because “in Him” is a prepositional phrase, and “Him” is the object of the preposition “in.” κατοικει is present tense, active voice; furthermore, it is intransitive, since it has no direct object.

Katoikei is a continuous or ongoing action. When we say that κατοικει, “dwells,” is in the present tense, we also mean that the action of  that verb  is continuous. Therefore what Paul says in Colossians 2:9 about Christ is a fact that stands true, that in Him “continually dwells the fullness of the Godhead.” And for that reason the indicative mood of the verb is used, it simply declares something to be a fact; and it is a fact that the Godhead keeps dwelling in Jesus, wherever He may be. “The present tense,” says Rogers and Rogers, “indicates the continual state [of Jesus] and points to the present reality [of him in heaven]” (Rogers & Rogers, 464). I once argued this fact with an INC minister, but he objected to my use of the Greek New Testament. He wanted to remain as an ignoramus, so I let him!

To the question: “Was the divine essence of Christ personally present on earth during Christ’s earthly ministry?” the answer should be “yes.”

IN HIM DWELLS ALL THE PLEROMA. The παν το πληρωμα, pan to ple’roma, “all the fullness,” is what dwells in Jesus. For a related passage see Colossians 1:19“For in him all the fullness [of the Godhead] was pleased to dwell” (Darby’s Translation).

πληρωμα, pleroma, is rooted from πληροω, pleroo, “to make full, to fill” (BAGD, 670). It can be used in the sense in which objects or persons  are filled with intangible things or qualities (as in, “the ship’s sail filled out by the wind”; “a sound filled the house”; “the house was filled with fragrance”; “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching,” Acts 5:28; “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full,” Dan 8:23; “fill someone’s heart,” that is, take possession of it, Eccl. 9:3) (Ibid., 670-671).

BAGD defines πληρωμα as (a) “that which fills up”; (b) “that which makes something full or complete, that which supplements or complements”; (c) “that which is full of something”; (d) “that which is brought to fullness or completion”; and (d) “that which is the sum total, the fullness, the superabundance” of something (BAGD, 672). Relative to the definition (d) above, BAGD cites Colossians 2:9, and says the phrase “the fullness of the Godhead” means “the full measure of deity” (Ibid.). What makes God “God” dwells in its fullness in Jesus.

The πληρωμα is something that is intangible and therefore to engage in measurements and physical dimension when talking about the “Godhead” (as the INC-1914 would often do) is to lose sight of the meaning of  it. The “fullness of the Godhead” is not a tangible something. So forget about the metric dimensions, the encasing and the body size. I am sure Jesus’ body size was tangible, but what dwelt in him was not. Let us look at the figure with the eye of faith.

WHAT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? Wasn’t the Holy Spirit in Christ during his earthly ministry, you would ask. What do you mean by “in Christ”? In two places in the Book of Matthew the Holy Spirit is mentioned in relation to Him and His work: (1) It was prophesied that the Spirit of God would be “upon him” (Matthew 12:17-19), and such was true during His ministry. (2) It is said that the Holy Spirit was “upon Him” during his baptism to identify Him as the chosen one of God (Matthew 3:16). This not only identifies Jesus but also reconfirms the Spirit’s presence and His separate identity from the Son and the Father.

If you insist that the Spirit was “in Christ” during His ministry, be informed that your evidence here is wanting. It would be best to examine the meaning of this Greek prepositional phrase translated as “upon Him” (επ αυτον, ep auton), cf. Matthew 3:16; 12:18. “Upon Him” does not mean “in Him.”

Furthermore, don’t be confused by thinking that if the Holy Spirit resided “in Him” (such a phrase of course I have yet to encounter in the New Testament, but I may be wrong), that is the same thing as saying that “fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him.”  The phrase “fullness of the Godhead” has never been equated with, is not identified with, and does not refer to the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit among Christians did not come until the event of Acts 2.

DWELLS BODILY. The πληρωμα of the θεοτητος, “the fullness of the Godhead,” dwells in Jesus “bodily.” The word here is σωματικως, somatikos, rooted from the Greek σωμα, soma, “body.” It is an adverb and means “bodily,’ “corporeally” (Vine’s, “Bodily,” 137; BAGD, 800).

In its adjective form, it means (a) “being or consisting of a body,” cf. Luke 3:22; and (b) “pertaining or referring to the body” (BAGD, 800).

The term “Godhead” is the translation of the word θεοτητος. Rogers and Rogers defines it as “divine nature, deity,” and that it “differs from the expression ‘Godhead’ in Romans 1:20 in that it emphasizes not so much divine attributes but divine nature or essence.” In describing the deity that is in Jesus, Rogers & Rogers says, “Divine glory did not merely gild Him, lighting up His person for a season with a splendor not His own; He was and is absolute and perfect God” (Rogers & Rogers, 464).

BAGD renders the phrase ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως, “in Him the whole fullness of Deity dwells bodily” which is to be understood as “in reality, not symbolically” (BAGD, 800). As the body of Jesus is real, the full deity that dwells in Him is also real. It is an actual, personal, and direct indwelling of the deity. I am inclined to believe that it is His own deity that dwells in His own body, and that deity is described by Paul as nothing less than what the Godhead  is and should be. Note for example that passage in Hebrews that says: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a body didst thou prepare for me; 6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure” (Hebrews 10:5-6, ASV). The body that came out of Mary’s womb was the body that became the habitation of the deity that came into the world. Jesus is God become man.

Colossians 2:9 thus means that the divine nature including the divine attributes that was Jesus, the Logos, became incarnate and indwelt in the body of the Redeemer of men. God needed to come down to be man’s Saviour (for only a Deity could save man) and become human to complete that salvation by the shedding of His blood (“without the shedding of blood there is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22). If He left His deity in heaven, He could not save, being man alone.

There is no need to speculate that it was the Holy Spirit who dwelt in Him, nor was it the Father. It was He himself as an individual Person in the Godhead! And that “Godhead” that inhabited the body of the man Jesus was nothing less than the full Godhead that was the Father and the Holy Spirit.

But, you may object, there is a passage too that plainly says the Father dwells in Jesus (John 14:10). My question: Do you believe that to be the literal indwelling of the Father in the body in Jesus?  The verb in that passage is menon, which not only means “dwelling” but also means “remaining,” or “abiding.” Even the translators have a problem on how to translate it, whether to render it  “to dwell,” “to abide,” or “to stay.” In one instance in John, the word meneis, a derivative of menon, was translated “dwell(John 1:38, “where dwellest thou?”). In another, it was translated “abide” as in John 1:39, “They abode (emeinan) with Him that day.”

Be informed also that Christ says the Father is “in” Him, and He is “in” the Father, and prays that His disciples may be one “in” them (John 17:21).

John in another epistle writes that anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, “God dwells in him, and he dwells likewise in God” (1 John 4:15). The verb for “dwells” here is menei. If one insists on God’s literal dwelling in him, why not too insist on his literal dwelling in God?

I believe that the Deity that was the Logos dwells in the man Jesus. That deity was no less in quality and essence than the Father and the Spirit, for which reason Paul calls it the “fullness of the Godhead” and it dwells bodily, in reality, in truth, in the body of the Redeemer of the world. But when it comes to the “indwelling” of the Father in Him, I believe that to be non-literal. By non-literal, I don’t mean it is not true; neither do I mean it is not real. I mean it is spiritual. The Father spiritually dwells in Jesus.

You may have your concept of the personal indwelling of the Godhead, or of the Spirit in you. I believe that to be  spiritual. Note too what John says: “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). We cannot literally dwell in God in much the same way as we cannot literally dwell in love.  Dwelling in God and dwelling in love, while they are truthful, real, and factual, they are not literal. They are spiritual.

The inhabiting of the Godhead in Jesus is rather unique and cannot be compared to your concept of the personal individual bodily indwelling of the Spirit.  What dwells in the body of Jesus is the “fullness of the Godhead” (that which makes Him,  the Father and the Spirit truly God, and I mean here the essence, attributes and nature of Godhood); what dwells in you, singularly, personally, individually, bodily,  is your own spirit.

Any reaction to this post will surely be appreciated. I can always rectify my position with the help of elucidation, explanation, or argumentation from you brethren.

CLICK HERE FOR  PREVIOUS POST, 5TH IN THE SERIES…

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Oh, that English Bible?

IMG_0570You probably have in your hand an English Bible, and yet you may not be aware that that Bible has a very exciting as well as sad history.  It came at the loss of many lives and at the price of much privileges, high positions, and social ranks. It came because men wanted the freedom to think and to worship God at the dictates of their conscience.

The exciting aspect of the history of the English Bible began with a Catholic theologian, born in Hipswell, England, an anti-Mendicant, who, seeing the many abuses of  his “mother church,” sought to oppose those abuses in every way he could. His name was John Wycliffe (ca. 1324-1384).

In his dream of a society where every man could have the liberty to think for himself and the freedom to read the Bible in his own tongue, John Wycliffe was not alone. Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun (ca. 1324) were among this company. Church historians call them the early reformers. Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun were democratic thinkers who believed that the power over life, from the cradle to the grave, should not be allowed in the hands of that man called the “Roman Pontiff,” that promoter of indulgences, that extortionist who craved for nothing but the alms offered by the relatives of the dead, who did not even have any notion what’s happening to the souls beyond the grave!

William of Occam (ca. 1300-1349) too was among them; this man believed the pope is not infallible and that he too should be subject to the authority of a council of men. Occam, like the other two before him, believed that the Bible is the only source of infallible authority over both the spiritual and physical aspects of a man’s life.

Wycliffe was a part of the Catholic Church in England. Yet, in opposing his pope, he declared that the Bible knows only two sets of positions, the eldership and the deaconship, and that the papacy, its archbishopric, its papist councils, its monastic system are all unknown in the Catholic Bible. Being a theologian, he defended the English king’s refusal to transport money from England to papal coffers (the papacy at that time was situated in Avignon, in France, and was under the domination of the King of France, a period in Roman Catholic history known as “Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy”). After the papacy was returned to Rome, with the election of two popes, one Italian and another French, Wycliffe had the privilege as a member of the embassy to visit the papal headquarters, and saw the corruption prevalent in the Roman priesthood, confirming that what he saw among the Catholic priests in the English soil was the norm rather than the exception. On his return to England, his tirades against the papacy saw no bounds. The pen was his power, and the energy of his tongue never diminished in his crusade to open the Catholic eyes to the errors of the Catholic pope.  He called the pope the anti-Christ, and argued that no Catholic priest or theologian could ever defend the papal system as scriptural even by using the Catholic Scripture.

Wycliffe was the first English reformer. History readers and history writers honor him by calling him “the morning star of the Reformation.” Yet, it must be admitted that no reform movement could succeed without some political powers helping you, protecting you, or taking up the cudgels for you. Wycliffe proved that (Martin Luther proved that later when he too started to reform his mother church in Germany). The pope at that time who was the object of Wycliffe’s religious tirades, Gregory XI, could do nothing but gnash his teeth in anger or bite his tongue in his wrath. Gregory’s 19-point long-winding anathema against the English reformer went unheeded by the Catholics of England. The English royalty, most notably John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, youngest son of King Edward III,  admired Wycliffe and the English courts could do nothing but protect the Englishman the English royalty so admired.

In his bold opposition to the pope of Rome, Wycliffe thought he could further clip the pope’s wings by making the Catholic Bible say what it truly says, minus the theologies and the dogmas that the priests mendicants and non-mendicants learned from their superiors. He began forming groups of preachers, called the Lollards, whose goal was to bring the message of the Poor Man of Galilee, not to the high class society of England consisting of  the priests and the rich men, but to the poor people of England, people with unassuming traits, whom he thought could be trusted with the riches of heaven. He wanted the ordinary man holding the plow to know more Bible than the soutaned man on the pulpit!

His deep search of the Scriptures made him reject the doctrine of transubstantiation, bringing upon him the disfavor of the chancellor of Oxford University. But he became even bolder in his denunciations of Catholic errors. He renounced the worship and adoration of relics and images, be it of Mary or Joseph or Jesus. He denounced the hiding of the truth of the gospel, and the overuse of words that meant nothing, in a language that by his time was as dead as a dead mouse and was never understood by anyone, not even by the morose monks who memorized it: Oremus vobiscum… saecula saeculorum.” He opposed the festivals in honor of  the “saints.” He criticized private masses and the ‘extreme unction.” To him the indulgences and the interdicts are blasphemous, and that purgatory was just an invention of a pope who was ignorant of the Scriptures. Monasticism? To him it was a monstrous development that was contrary to the spirit of true Christianity.  One colorful statement attributed to Wycliffe came to us, that says: “Even if a hundred popes, even if all the friars, were turned into cardinals, their statements would not matter.  Those opinions of theirs ought not to be acceded to in matters of faith except in so far as they based themselves upon Scripture” (F. W. Mattox, The Eternal Kingdom, p. 225).

His noble cause caused him his position at the university, and a synod gathered by the papal cohorts in 1382 condemned his works. The king’s courts however protected him from being arrested and lynched and he retired to Lutterworth in 1374, where he died  ten years later.

His 1380 translation was the first complete English Bible, translated literally from the Latin Vulgate. A more polished translation was done in 1395, eleven years after he died, by his followers Nicholas Hereford and John Purvey.

The Catholic Church was an angry lion that never slept. In 1401, the acts of reading the English Bible and the writings of Wycliffe the heretic became a capital offense in England, of course under a new, but much rigid environment. In 1428, thirty-one years after he died, Wycliffe’s bones were dug up from his tomb. It was one stupid act of a church that hated him so much, who hated even his bones, hated his memory. The pope who ordered that must be out of his mind! But anyway, they got their own revenge upon the man’s bones. They burned it, and had the ashes thrown for keeps into the River Severn.

The persecuting acts of the Roman church drove Wycliffe’s followers into hiding. But such only repeated the events of Acts chapter 8. Persecution could hinder, but never snuff out the fire of enthusiasm for the divine that characterize those who know the truth and love it. Those who were chased from their homes, who became sojourners in some wastelands of the world, who were in hiding, preached the Word.

John Wycliffe was truly the morning star. The light of his life, the scriptural principles he lived and died for, became the flame that would no longer be extinguished. In the years that followed, many shared the sentiments of John Wycliffe, and his influence soon reached the European continent.  More and more men with zeal and love for the Word joined the band of those who called for reforming the evil that was Catholicism. John Huss of Bohemia, the so-called “John the Baptist of the Reformation,” died at stake at the instigation of the Catholic Council of Constance. Jerome of Prague too was martyred. And the other one was Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican priest who brought reform in the heart of Italy, in the very headquarters of the Catholic Church. He was hanged by the order of Alexander VI in 1498.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not,” so says the Lord. We in these modern times are a privileged lot. So privileged in fact that we seldom think of it, or we have not stopped a while and reflect on it. The preaching of the Truth had cost the life of the Son of God. That English Bible you’re holding now had been the cause of the shedding of much blood, the extinguishing of so many lives, the fall of so many from high positions.

But then, if this much would cost us to be privileged, after our faith and obedience to the Son of God, to enter heaven’s door, why worry at all.  Only the strong and the persevering make it there. Count yourself then. And be glad.

Note: I have had some emails from people asking me how to go about studying Greek. One of those who attend my Sunday Bible class, a graduate from De La Salle University, who has left Catholicism, became a Baptist and has now cast his lot with us, urges me to give him even an hour to learn Greek. The other is a preacher in Metro Manila who keeps visiting my blog, wanting something new always. I am thankful that many have now realized the need. What would be my advice?

Procure a copy of the following books: (1) Alfred Marshall’s Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. (2) The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, by Cleon Rogers Jr. and Cleon Rogers III. (3)  New Testament Greek for Beginners, by J. Gresham Machen. (4) Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.

To facilitate more information as you read and learn, download copies of my PowerPoint lessons on Greek Grammar. Click this link>>>

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